Teaching Relief for those in Receipt of Research Funding, and Sabbatical Accrual

In certain circumstances, the department will offer relief from teaching, examining and departmental administration duties, to permanent faculty whose salary is paid by research and fellowship grants and contracts.

In such circumstances, as well as affecting duties, there is an impact on sabbatical accrual. The policy of the MPLS Division is that the purpose of sabbatical leave is to alleviate the burden of teaching, examining and administrative duties, in order that academic staff can focus on research. Sabbatical entitlement is accrued as a result of academic staff carrying out the normal teaching, examination and administrative duties associated with their role. Drawing on the entitlement accrued will relieve the individual of those duties for the period of the sabbatical leave.

In normal circumstances, where academic staff are carrying out all of the normal duties of their role, they will accrue one term of sabbatical leave for every six terms of qualifying service. However, where an individual has been granted relief from duties to pursue a research project as outlined above, that person will not accrue sabbatical credit simultaneously.

This document lays out the policy, though in exceptional circumstances variations may be agreed with the Head of Department. The agreed accrual rate will be captured in the formal communication to the individual about relief of duties, issued once the research application is being prepared or once a research award has been made.

Nothing in this document applies to relief arising from other sources, for example due to undertaking an onerous university task.


There are four levels of relief from duties:

  • 25%

    A member of academic staff can be offered relief from eight hours of lectures in respect of a full academic year in which 25% of their departmental salary is covered by a grant or grants. However, as lecture courses are usually delivered in sets of 16 hours, it is expected that such relief will normally be carried over to the second year of a grant period, to give remission from one 16-hour lecture course in that year.

    Under this category there is no relief from duties connected with inter-collegiate classes, examining, administrative duties or college teaching.

    There will be full sabbatical accrual under this arrangement.
  • 50%

    This covers 50% relief from all teaching (both lectures and classes), examining and administrative duties in the department, and applies in respect of a full academic year in which 50% of the departmental salary of the individual is covered by a grant or grants.

    It is very difficult to quantify with any precision the amount of examining and administration work that a given individual conducts. In practice, a key part of the 50% category is that the individual will not be asked to take on any particularly onerous tasks such as being a Prelims or Part A examiner, or Chair of Examiners for Part B, Part C or OMMS.

    During the period of relief from duties, the individual will be required to set and mark exams associated with any course they are lecturing, and continue to do other things such as being an assessor for Transfer of Status and Confirmation of Status, being an internal DPhil examiner, and marking student projects, etc, but at a 50% effort level.

    There will be only 50% university sabbatical accrual under this arrangement.
  • 70% 

    With some funders such as ERC, there is a possibility for APTFs to also obtain relief from 50% of the college teaching if allowed by the college, and subject to a suitable agreement with the college, and in addition to the relief offered by the 50% category. In this case, since research project costings are based on the departmental salary and not on the combined university/college salary, the relief will typically occur when 70% of departmental salary of the individual is covered, enabling the department to provide a postdoc or Hooke/Titchmarsh Fellow to carry out the college teaching.

    Under this arrangement, there will still be only 50% university sabbatical accrual, and it will be for the college to set the level of college sabbatical accrual.
  • 100%

    This provides full relief from all teaching, examining and administrative duties in the department, as well as relief from college duties for APTFs, to the extent allowed by the college, subject to a suitable agreement with the college, and applies in respect of a full academic year in which 100% of the departmental salary of the individual is covered by a grant or grants.

    There will be no university sabbatical accrual under this arrangement.

If someone has multiple smaller research buyouts, then these can be combined, so that, for example, a combined 30% buyout would be treated like a single 25% buyout. At a higher level, if someone has two research grants each with 25% buyout, the default position would be entitlement to twice the level of 25% buyout, i.e. relief from one course per full academic year but no relief from examining and administration, and therefore full sabbatical accrual. Properly costed variations to this could be proposed to the Head of Department, but they must be consistent with the principle that relief from examination and administration implies reduced sabbatical accrual.


Relief from duties flows directly from the above policy and need not be negotiated on a case-by-case basis except where variation from the policy above is sought. Where an exceptional arrangement is made prior to the award of a contract or grant, Research Facilitation should be informed.

Once a contract or grant is awarded, research facilitation will inform the post-award team of any exceptional arrangements and the database will be updated to reflect the sum total of buyouts from all contracts and grants held by each academic with salary charged to the grant or contract.

Where departmental teaching relief needs to be arranged, those receiving relief from teaching should liaise with the relevant panel or panels, to agree in which year relief will be taken and ensure arrangements for replacement teaching are made by the panel or panels. Once a panel has agreed when relief from teaching will be taken, this should be communicated, by the individual in receipt of the relief from teaching, to the Head of Administration.

Where relief from college teaching has been agreed, the expectation is that the teaching will be undertaken by a postdoc or research fellow from the department. It is the responsibility of the individual in receipt of relief from teaching to obtain consent from the college, and to agree the identity of the person to undertake the replacement teaching with HR in the department and with the college. In cases where the college will agree only for replacement college teaching to be undertaken by a stipendiary lecturer, the Head of Department should be consulted; where the Head of Department agrees to the payment of costs associated with a stipendiary lecturer, the level or duration of relief granted may be reduced.

Where no-cost extensions to grants are agreed with the funder, no additional relief from duties will be agreed and no relief from duties may occur in the period of the project extension.


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